I remember last year my Ideal Societies in Fiction professor asked the class "Who considers themselves feminists?"
Only three of us raised our hands, and all three of us were in a Literary Theory class where we had just discussed feminist studies and the different waves of feminism.
The professor was incredulous, but I understood why we were the only ones to raise our hands, so I explained. "Feminism has a bad image. When someone thinks of a feminist they automatically think of an over-bearing woman burning her bra. However, there were different waves of feminism. First-wave feminists wanted suffrage, second-wave wanted more sexual liberation and a bigger role in the workforce. We are still in the third-wave, which wants equal pay and equality in general. I think the women burning their bras were necessary at the time, but not anymore. Feminism looks different today, it's just women wanting to be treated the same as men and have a say in the politics that concern their reproductive health."
One of the other girls in the class said "Well if that's the definition of feminism we're using then I want to raise my hand too."
So, the professor re-asked the question and this time everyone in the room--male and female--raised their hands.
I'm glad that some of the stigma attached to that statement is going away. At least it is in the circles I run in; I'm sure if I watched Fox News I would not believe that to be true. Have you heard some of the things the male pundits say? Honestly I feel a bit sorry for Megan Kelly and the other women who work there. I'm not going to state my political opinions but I will say two things:
1. Some people (women included) prefer a traditional womanly role, which is fine, but women should have the freedom to choose what kind of life they lead. No one should keep them from choosing a traditional or progressive role or judge them for that choice. Although, women who choose a traditional role should do so because they want to, not because they are being pressured/bullied into it by a man or family members.
2. Women should be the ones to decide what happens to their bodies--not men! I cannot state this enough times. Once again, whatever these women decide about reproductive issues should be their choice, because they are the ones impacted by it. In fact, according to the Guttmacher Institute, 58% of women who take birth-control use it for reasons that aren't exclusively for pregnancy prevention--including myself. I can say for a fact that you don't have to be sexually active to take birth-control (we're getting really personal here...), but I still feel like people are judging me every time I get my prescription filled (it's especially funny when they see that my dad was the one who wrote the prescription for me). If women had more of a say in policies relating to their reproductive health I think things would look a bit different. I hope things would look different.
So, how about we all call ourselves feminists, because we all have mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters whom we love and want the best for. To call oneself a feminist does not mean you are in favor of one gender over the other; it means you are in favor humankind and each individual who falls under that category, male or female.
In closing, I would like to propose that feminists no longer look like this: